Graphene looks more and more like the ideal material for nanotech transistors

In the rush of nanotechnology toward molecular-scale electronics for computers, graphene has now been shown to retain essential properties when used to make transistors at the one-nanometer-scale. However, reliable fabrication of devices at this size scale remains an obstacle. From a University of Manchester press release “Graphene used to create world’s smallest transistor” via ScienceDaily

Researchers have used the world’s thinnest material to create the world’s smallest transistor, one atom thick and ten atoms wide.

Reporting their peer-reviewed findings in the latest issue of the journal Science [abstract], Dr Kostya Novoselov and Professor Andre Geim from The School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester show that graphene can be carved into tiny electronic circuits with individual transistors having a size not much larger than that of a molecule.

…Unlike all other known materials, graphene remains highly stable and conductive even when it is cut into devices one nanometre wide.

Graphene transistors start showing advantages and good performance at sizes below 10 nanometres — the miniaturization limit at which the Silicon technology is predicted to fail.

“Previously, researchers tried to use large molecules as individual transistors to create a new kind of electronic circuits. It is like a bit of chemistry added to computer engineering”, says Novoselov. “Now one can think of designer molecules acting as transistors connected into designer computer architecture on the basis of the same material (graphene), and use the same fabrication approach that is currently used by semiconductor industry”.

“It is too early to promise graphene supercomputers,” adds Geim. “In our work, we relied on chance when making such small transistors. Unfortunately, no existing technology allows the cutting materials with true nanometre precision. But this is exactly the same challenge that all post-silicon electronics has to face. At least we now have a material that can meet such a challenge.”

The authors offer this assessment in concluding their research report:

Unlike any other material, graphene remains mechanically and chemically stable and highly conductive at the scale of a few benzene rings, which makes it uniquely suitable for the top-down approach to molecular-scale electronics.


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